Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded Review

If videogames accurately manifest the desires of their target demographic, then a lot of today’s 18-to-35 males long to be massive space marines with names like Brock Beefsteak and Jake McSlamfist. But 25 years ago it was totally cool to help social misfit Larry Laffer score with babes that are way out of his league. Apparently everything dork is cool again, as the original 40-year-old virgin is back: Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded, Replay Games’ remake of the first game in Sierra’s classic adventure series is just as filthy, funny, and heartwarming as it ever was.

Poor Larry. All he’s got going for him is a cut-rate Saturday Night Fever outfit and a repertoire of cornball pickup lines, but he’s in Lost Wages, city of loose slots and looser women and he is going to get lucky with the ladies no matter how much humiliation he has to take. Your job is to guide Larry through this adventure as he attempts to please four bodacious babes on his quest to get lucky.

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As you can tell, the humor is cheerfully naughty in a playful Mad Magazine way, but it never seems out to shock in the way that some modern games do. It’s corny and frequently pun-related, and some have called it outdated but I still like it even though the punch lines induce more groans than laughs.

Each babe has a series of demands, and your actions largely concern using the items you collect on other objects in order to acquire the items they want. New girl Jasmine, for instance wants an unusual perfume. Your recipe involves ambergris, also known as whale vomit. You’ve got the whale, but how to make him cough up what you need? Maybe that bottle of hot sauce you found will help…?

The touch interface is well done, although playing on iPhone sometimes means that the touch hotspots are tiny and sometimes hard to successfully tap. Playing on iPad is definitely recommended.

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This is still an old-school adventure game, and as such the obscurity of the solutions can be maddening. (Remember, a huge chunk of original publisher Sierra’s revenue came from their help hotline and the sale of hint books.) Arriving at the proper solution requires some thought and a good deal more trial land error, but this game in general isn’t as puzzle-dense as many later adventures. Still, an integrated hint system like that seen in the Broken Sword ports would have made the archaic gameplay more palatable.

This remake retains the broad cartoonish visuals from the later PC games, but the backgrounds have been upgraded with a coat of digital paint and a spiffy new jazz soundtrack. Lefty’s Bar is as terrible as ever– only better. (But even after so many decades they still haven’t fixed the toilets.) If you’re familiar with the series, wandering through the locations is like visiting the town in which you grew up years after you moved away: nostalgic and memory-provoking. The snarky narrator returns, thankfully, with even more Larry-savaging dialogue. Also new to the remake is a new potential conquest in hot bikini babe Jasmine, although her story is short and a little unsatisfying.

Larry Laffer is an unappealing loser, a character that shouldn’t work, but he somehow manages to be appealing anyway. His ceaseless optimism in the face of endless indignity is actually inspiring. For a game about scoring with chicks, Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded contains a surprising amount of love: love for the main character, the game on which it is based, and most of all love for the fans who made the remake possible in the first place. Play the game yourself and you might feel this love, too. Just keep a walkthrough handy.

  • http://winterdrake.com/ Dehumanizer

    Disagree about the difficulty; this is actually one of the easiest Sierra games, and the new version completely removes dead ends and having to go back to previous saves because you died. I’d recommend you *don’t* keep a walkthrough handy; the game doesn’t need one.

    Also, and I admit this is not as obvious as it should have been, there *are* hints in the game. Just give some money to Lefty. The one magazine you can buy in the convenience store also provides some hints.

  • Suzanne Keller

    I agree with you- this is definitely the easiest mainstream Sierra adventure, and the update removes the no-win state that comes with running out of money.

    Difficulty is subjective, and I’d call any old school point-and-clicker difficult. I don’t see that as a negative but you’re right: some will take a different view.

    But I didn’t realize the mags were part of a hint system. Good to know!